House and Ateliers by Cláudia Melo

This house and ateliers for Arts intend to create a complex to work and live rather than just a house.
It was specially designed for the needs of the inhabitants – a couple of artists with a high sense of aesthetic and interest in the the Art as a way of knowledge – and according to the site – a rude landscape with hot dry climate between Castelo Branco town and Spain. The specific site has a small river, land rocks and shallow vegetation with a unique sense of beauty. There are no trees except beside the river and a cliff dominates the site and alows 360º views. The construction is located here.

This complex to work and live in has a center, an open field like a square that organizes all the spaces – interior, exterior and circulations. Funcionally this void is equivalent to a medieval cloyster since is a place between interior and exterior that can be walked in all its extension.

The adjacent spaces are fragmented in blocks according to its funcionality – from domestic to public including circulations. Volumes are distributed from the north to the south and from public to private and first volumes seen from entrance are ateliers , that protect the house. A narrative with aesthetic and functional objectives reveal a code : volumes that correspond to places to live / work in are grey and appeal to stableness due to its finishings made of concrete blocks and steal plate with horizontal lines. On the opposite sense circulations are vibrant and dynamic since they are red, made of steal plates with vertical lines and designed with intricated geometry.
This complementary conjunction of materials and colours reflect the traditional houses of Castelo Branco, where walls are solid, made of grey stone with wooden doors and windows painted red. Red is the best colour to protect interiors from both extreme hot and cold weather due to its cromatic spectrum.

Sustainability is a very important issue and house is organized in two levels to be integrated in the natural landscape. Majority of compartiments face south and are properlly shaded by geometry of balconys and louvres to receive natural light and heat gains in Winter thus avoiding it in Summer. Natural transversal ventilation allows natural cooling of building specially in the summer nights by night cooling. Thermal mass from concrete walls helps creating a heat battery to prevent from excessive solar radiation in Summer and minimizing heat losses from the interior in the Winter. Low coast materials and constructive solutions also express sustainability and architecture without waste.

On the first level the couple´s bedroom has the bathroom integrated on it due to aesthetic, functional and sustainable reasons : bathroom is facing south throw a big window and is separated by the bedroom from large window doors. In Summer, these doors are open and natural ventilation is comming from outside to cool both bedroom and bathroom. In Winter doors close both spaces and a buffer zone is create in the toillet to receive solar radiation from exterior and introducting it into the bedroom by convection.
The rude landscape is now absorbing this new element and owners are living on it and printing their own time and space patterns. The building now belongs to all of them.

location: Castelo Branco, Portugal
size: 538 sqm
conclusion: 2010
architecture: Cláudia Melo
lighting design: Pedro Pinto
engineer: Sílvio Baptista and António Mateus Filipe
construction: Afonso Baptista
fotography: Miguel d´Aguiam


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